Five for Fighting

      five for fighting jpeg.jpg
      Five for Fighting

      Through time, songwriters have pulled from heart-wrenching current events for inspiration. Today, we visit with John Ondrasik, who is better known as Five for Fighting. His famous song Superman became an anthem for 9/11 heroes. Now he's writing about Afghanistan.

      Music video “Superman (It's Not Easy)”: I can't stand to fly. I'm not that naïve. I'm just out to find.

      John Ondrasik: Superman, I wrote when I was hitting the wall of the music business. At that time, I was a little selfish, young guy and I was wanting to be heard, and it wasn't easy to be me, and I wrote Superman, actually it was a gift, it came within 45 minutes.

      Music Video "Superman (It's Not Easy)" : I'm more than a bird, I'm more than a plane. I'm more than some pretty face beside a train. And it's not easy to be me.

      Ondrasik: I didn't think it was for me, frankly, when I wrote it, I was a rocker. I wanted to maybe give it to Celine or Barbara Streisand, but it was a little song that always, when I played it, got a reaction and I think the innate humanity of that song that we can all relate to, it's not easy to be me, I think made sense over time. And it's a song I couldn't write now, but it'll always be my first baby.

      Sharyl: What's the story behind writing 100 Years, which is another one that was big, big hit?

      Ondrasik: You know, 100 Years basically came from sitting on the couch with my kids, two and three years old. And I tend to be one of those people that kind of obsesses about the past, or dwells on the future, it's hard for me to find the moment. A lot of these songs are like Post-it notes to myself. And I was thinking, "Hey, look at this, dude, you're living your dream. You're singing songs that people sing back to you. You have these two lovely children, a beautiful wife. Can you at least recognize this moment right now?"

      NATS "100 years": I'm fifteen for a moment. Caught in between ten and twenty. And I'm just dreaming. Counting the ways to where you are.

      Ondrasik: And the thing I love about 100 Years is that I'm always in that song somewhere, when I sing it. I started in the second verse. Then I was in the second chorus and now I'm in the bridge pretty soon I'll be in the vamp. And I think we all grow up through that song.

      Music video "100 years": Fifteen, there's still time for you. Time to buy and time to lose. Fifteen, there's never a wish better than this. When you only got a hundred years to live.

      Sharyl: What made you decide to write a song about Afghanistan?

      Ondrasik: Yeah. I wasn't planning on it. I take no joy in writing this song, or putting this song out. But I think, like all of us, we were watching those initial images with the first one that really got me was when the soccer player fell off the plane to his death. And I had images of people jumping off the Twin Towers and I'm like, here we go again. What's going on? And then we saw the mothers handing babies over walls. But even, then I wasn't planning on writing a song. I'd go to my studio and I just bang on the piano because I was angry and upset. But the song really formed when our 13 soldiers were killed, and the 100 Afghans. I was angry. I thought, somebody needs to say something.

      Song "Blood On My Hands": I can't hear her scream if she's not, she's not. She's not on TV. I can't hear him scream if he's not, he's not. He's not on TV.

      Sharyl: Are there people in your life telling you this was a risky thing to do because this could be viewed politically as something that some of your fans or some people might not like?

      Ondrasik : Of course, yeah. You know, my family with exception of maybe my dad was like, you can't put this out. My managers, all my music friends, they said, you can't put this out, are you crazy? But I kept coming back to, the song's a moral message. It's not a political one, it's a moral message. If President Trump were President, and he got into this situation, I would write the same song. Only the names would change. And hopefully, this song will inspire other folks to write songs like this, because the Afghanistan debacle is America's great shame, the greatest shame of my generation. And we have to first admit our complicity, then start atoning for it, and not just let our private citizens down there, do what our government should be doing.

      Song "Blood On My Hands": Hands. Got blood on our hands. Just one American. Asking what's happening.